Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More
a play by Laura Lee Bahr
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 1)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 2)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 3)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 4)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 5)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 6)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 7)
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 8)
(When we last left Herstory Boutique, Pricilla was talking about cows and free milk and Hero was talking about ‘you get what you pay for.’ Pricilla is starting to curdle from bitterness and she takes a break as… we join the play in action…)
The door-bells chime as PRICILLA leaves the stage and lights come up on the DOCTOR’S Office.
PATIENT A: (sultry) I don’t have what I want. I’ve never had what I want. Sometimes I think for a moment I can glimpse what I want… when I look up at that Billboard and I see that blonde model in an embrace with a gorgeous guy and he is looking at her, and she is looking at me. He is looking at her as if he is enchanted. She is not a trophy. She is a hooker- I can tell she’s a hooker, even though she’s not a hooker- she’s just a model. She’s not supposed to look like a hooker, and he’s not supposed to look like a John- but anyway, they are inviting me to this place in the sky, and in her smile is a promise and in that promise is a feeling and in that feeling is fulfillment and I want that, I want that—I will do whatever I have to do to get it. Just tell me what I have to do.
PATIENT B: (bitter) I don’t have what I want. I once had what I wanted. But I never knew enough to appreciate it when I had it. Because I thought I wanted something else. So I didn’t look around and take full stock of what I had and hold onto it with all my might. I didn’t dedicate myself, devote myself, discipline myself to dig my claws in and Hold on HOLD ON HOLD ON… now I got nothing, Nothing. (she starts coughing) Not even my health.
PATIENT C: (perky) I have what I want, and pretty much, I always have. I mean every cloud has a silver lining, and everything happens for a reason. Sometimes you don’t know what that reason is, but somebody knows- somebody who knows everything know what reason. And that somebody is God. And God knows everything. Anyway, you just gotta think positive. Think positive. Act positive. Be positive. Maybe I don’t have what I want, but I’m sure I’ll get it because I’m POSITIVE.
DOCTOR: But here they come in- a parade of women. Women who don’t know their rights, their options. Women who refuse to educate themselves. Women knocked up, women beaten up. Women with open sores, women with viruses you can’t see, women so stupid I want to hit them. Women so smart behaving so stupid I want to hit them. I want to say, “Wake up, Wake up, Wake the fuck up? Do you know what year it is? Do you know that this is your life? Do you know what you are doing to your children? I want to go practice something else. Maybe I’ll go into plastic surgery. Then I’ll just see rich stupid women. Instead of poor stupid women. I’m a doctor. I don’t play one on tv. I’m a real doctor, one who sits and looks into the mess and makes prescriptions. Prognostications…(conspiratorially dropping the mask to the 4th wall) okay, I’m not a real doctor. I still don’t play one on TV but I’d like to. Because I’m an actor, playing a doctor, on-stage. On stage is not nearly as lucrative as on the television. You don’t get the money or the exposure. Speaking of exposure, lets get back to the business at hand- me playing a doctor. (officiously) So, I have this patient:
A: (to the 4th wall) First, let me just preface this by saying I am an actor and this part in no way reflects any legitimately held disease that I have- I am doing this not for money but strictly for the love of the art- (in character) Doctor, what are these scorching burning bumps?
DOCTOR: Genital warts.
A: Oh my God, I am so mortified. I should kill myself right now.
DOCTOR: It could be worse.
B: (to the 4th wall) Please, I have been tested for everything and I am clean, clean- but for the love of the stage: (in character) Doctor? What are these scorching burning bumps?
B: Oh my God, I am totally going to kill myself. Who will want to be with me now?
DOCTOR: It could be worse.
C: (commiserating with 4th wall) I’m disgusted to even say these lines, but I gotta hone the craft- (in character) Hello! What are these scorching burning bumps?
DOCTOR: Flea bites.
C: But I don’t have any pets…
DOCTOR: Oh, Sorry. Herpes.
All the patients start to cry.
DOCTOR: Oh, what’s your fucking problem! At least you don’t have AIDS! (looks down at her clipboard. Points to Patient C.) I mean, except for you.
AUTHOR: They can all die- suffer- what does it matter? What is their existence to me and what is my existence to anyone else? I am a drop in an infinite ocean, constant waves. I’m not special. Or I’m too special, retarded special. The special that embarrasses and does not understand. (Head in hands crying out) I am a drop that catches the light, and disappears into the foam. (to the 4th wall, a story!) Did you know that’s how the Little Mermaid ends? There’s no evil octupussy witch that must be speared the mermaid’s Father’s phallus. No, in the original fairy tale, it was a simple deal- no hard feelings- and it doesn’t work out. The prince just doesn’t fall in love with her. That’s all—he simply fails to fall in love—and the Little Mermaid just becomes sea foam. Who can make who fall in love with who? It mostly just logistics, pheromones… Why do I believe- what do I believe- it hurts sometimes- I can’t do it—I can’t catch the light- I will be submerged. Here’s a true story. I don’t want to tell it—someone else…
C: For this I was saved? Once, I went out to the beach at Zuma. I was in the water, and I could see some dolphins…
AUTHOR: I’m so tired of this story! Jesus, how many times have I told this story?
B: You’re not telling the story
AUTHOR: It’s my story- it’s a true story!
C: Then you tell it!
AUTHOR: I don’t want to tell it- I’m tired of it!
B: Then don’t tell it! Nobody asked you, anyway!
AUTHOR: And who asked you! I wrote you! I could just as soon make you not exist!
B: Ha! I’d like to see you try- it’s too late-
AUTHOR: Poof! You’re out of the play, Patient B! Goodbye!
B: It’s too late! You already wrote me. I’m already here. Even if you delete me, you’ll still remember that once you wrote me and I’ll pop up other ways, other places like a wac-a mole-
AUTHOR: Oh, the old wac-a mole metaphor…
B: You see, you know it’s true- so just let me be- or I’ll torment you in ways you can very well imagine.
AUTHOR: Are you threatening me?
B: Who was threatening who with nonexistence?
AUTHOR: I wasn’t threatening! I was saying I didn’t WANT to exist! I was offering you a way out—
B: I WANT to exist! I don’t care what you want!
C: Can I please tell my story now?
AUTHOR: Oh, now it’s your story-
A: Hello, I’m still on stage, can I have a line?
DOCTOR: It sounds like you need a therapist- I can recommend one-
No one responds. AUTHOR looks around.
AUTHOR: (defensive) Are you talking to me?
DOCTOR: I don’t know. Do you have an appointment?
AUTHOR: (meekly) No.
DOCTOR: Then get the fuck out of my office.
The AUTHOR’S light dims.
The DOCTOR looks back at the three patients, who are standing in a line in blue light behind her. The DOCTOR, in her red light, lies down on the couch. The Patients take her clipboard, and read from it.
DOCTOR: Okay. Tell your story.
A: “So I was at the beach, Zuma beach, and I had borrow a swimsuit from a friend- it was too big, and the top didn’t quite stay on”-
B: (to A) Wait- This isn’t your story.
C: (to A) She told me to tell the story-
A: (to C) Who, who told you to tell the story?
C: The author- “So I was at Zuma, swimming in the ocean”-
B: There’s no author here. (She grabs the clipboard and reads) “I was in a bad mood”
A: (to B) Wait, are you trying to tell the story now?
C: “So I was in the ocean, swimming, trying to be one with the universe”
B: (to A) I’m as entitled to this story as anyone- “but it wasn’t working”-
DOCTOR: No one is entitled to this story. Unless, of course, it’s your story.
C: It is my story. It was given to me. Plus, I have it memorized.
A: Who? Who gave you this story?
C: The author.
B: There’s no author here.
C: (rapidly) I saw some dolphins, they were close, it seemed, I’d never seen dolphins so close- I mean they were still far, but I could see them in the distance. I thought maybe I’d swim closer to them. Then I realized that my feet weren’t touching the sand anymore in the water. I was further out than I thought. So I started swimming back toward the shore.
B: (reading) “I swam and then I realized I was no closer to the shore. In fact, I was further away. So I closed my eyes and swam harder. No dice. And the waves, they just kept hitting me.”
A: (grabs the clipboard, scuffling with B and reading off it at the same time) “Of course, I couldn’t keep the top of my swimsuit up, what with all the waves hitting me and the hard swimming and the hard breathing.”
B: (scuffling, reading) “It was very hard to breathe. In fact, I was rapidly losing my ability to- as well as I was starting to panic- I was getting further away from the shore. I tried to scream for help, but I just kept getting hit by the waves. I thought- I’m going to die.”
Patient A whacks B with the clipboard and gets it back. She reads.
A: “And then there was a guy in the water next to me. I tried to tell him that I needed help- could he get help for me? Of course, I couldn’t really get it out because the waves were hitting me- and he said, ‘duck’ and we ducked when the next wave hit- and he- get this- came behind me and held the back of my swimsuit up.”
(All three hold their breath and release it simultaneously.)
(They are no longer reading, but reciting, in reverent tones.)
A: And then he pulled out a little rafty thingee and he told me to hold onto it, and I did, and he swam- and pulled me back to shore.
C: As he was pulling me back, that’s when I realized that he was saving me- saving my life-
A: And I didn’t get a good look at him, what with the panic and nearly drowning
B: And then I was back on the shore, trying to catch my breath and come to terms with the fact that I’d almost died—in a very pissy mood.
A: But I’d been saved by Baywatch.
C: And I said, ‘thank you’ and he looked at me like he was surprised.
A: Like he hadn’t got a good look at me, what with all the saving a drowning person and he said-
C: ‘Sure.’ And ran off down the beach to save another person.
DOCTOR: It was a rip-tide. You have to swim with the current, not against it.
A: Baywatch saved my life. And my top.
B: (to A) Don’t act so smug. It didn’t really happen to you.
C: (to B) Well, what does it matter who it happened to.? She said she was tired of telling it, anyway.
A: Who? Who’s tired of telling it?
C: The author.
B: There’s no author here.
DOCTOR: I wonder what this all means…
B: (simultaneously with C) Let me tell you what I’m tired of. I’m tired of this whole scenerio, I mean we walked on stage, we performed this little- what the hell have we been doing here? What kind of modernist, post-modernist crap is this-
C: (simultaneously with Patient B, continuously) Interrupting. Interrupting. Interrupting…
A: Shut up!
B: (with and to C) Yeah, shut up!
C: (with B) Who?
DOCTOR: Everyone shut up. I have a diagnosis: Feeling hopeless, then hopeful, looking at the symbol of the dolphins as water angels, being pulled away and under- naked and tossed aside without regard- saved by a hunky man who’s job it is to save lives- no one seeing each other, just that it wasn’t personal that he was a gentleman, nor that he was a hunk, nor that your life was endanger, nor that you were saved, it just all happened like any other day. And this, then, is just another story, given weight because of the weight you give it. (She is very proud of herself. She grabs the clipboard back from A.) I don’t have a pretend medical degree for nothing.
The Patients all look at each other in collusion, suddenly suspicious of the DOCTOR.
A: I thought you were supposed to be an MD, not a shrink.
B: I don’t trust your diagnosis if you’re some Quack.
C: Quack! I’m going to sue you! You told me I had a fatal sexually-transmitted disease-
The three approach the Doctor, threateningly.
DOCTOR: It’s not my fault if my training is limited to the passing fancy of some fool who doesn’t know what terminology to use- not enough ER or Gray’s Anatomy-
B: Not here.
The DOCTOR uses her clipboard like a torch against Frankenstein.
DOCTOR: Get out! Get out! Get out!
She chases the three out, as they exeunt quacking and saying “duck”.
DOCTOR: This is what you get when actors get a taste for absurdism. Get tired of naturalism. I’m tired of naturalism too. I too, could have a taste, for the absurd…
Our Doctor sits down, languidly, unbuttoning her Doctor’s Uniform and Smoking a Giant Banana as she continues.
DOCTOR: But this is the story about how I saw Feminism die a slow and stupid death of irrelevancy, apathy and tokenism…See sometimes its hard, being a woman- being in love with just one man…
The DOCTOR begins reciting the lyrics to “Stand By Your Man” in a monotone patter as the lights dim and the foreground lights up.
TOM is sitting on a bar stool in the light, drinking a beer. The ACTRESS comes and takes a stool next to him. She seems shaken, but not stirred.
…To Be Continued
Laura Lee Bahr is the author of the short stories Happy Hour and The Liar (available in the anthologies DEMONS, winner of the Bram Stoker award and PSYCHOS, edited by John Skipp and published by Black Dog & Leventhal). She is the award-winning screenwriter of the feature films Jesus Freak and the little Death. Her first novel, HAUNT, received the Wonderland Book Award.